In the 16th century Islam became the prevailing religion on the island of Java (the geographic and economic center of Indonesia); today, Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world. With the continuing influx of Islam, the nation’s Hindus fell under increasing persecution and many fled to the island of Bali. Today, Bali has managed to create its own unique form of Hinduism that melds aspects of Hinduism, indigenous animist customs, and Buddhism.
In Balinese Hinduism there is a strong tradition of setting out offerings in the hopes of gaining favor with the deities. Many people build temples somewhere on their property in order to formally set out offerings but many set out small offerings in front of their homes, businesses and even in their vehicles. It seems that everywhere you look you’ll find beautiful little pieces of devotion. Several times a day locals will set out small arrangements that usually consist of coconut leaves, rice, flowers, small cookies or biscuits, coins, candies, and incense. You will see these tiny gifts in front of nearly every shop, hotel, office, bank, house, and even in the middle of the street and on the beaches. Each offering can have a different meaning — procuring success and prosperity, retaining health, gaining luck, protection, support, guidance, or warding off evil — depending on the needs of the person making it.
It seems that much love and care is put into their construction; however, at the end of the day the remains are simply swept up and thrown away. Tomorrow they will be recreated and presented anew.